Saturday, March 28, 2009
Obsession Countdown: Sweden
I've spent a lot of time lately reading about Sweden. I've always had a fascination with Sweden, and with the Scandinavian countries in general. Lately J and I have an elaborate fantasy about moving there and setting up shop. Figuratively, I suppose, though I wouldn't really object to a literal shop. Or whatever Swedish for shop is. Probably something that sounds vaguely like shop with a bunch of extra vowels crammed in.
Despite their disturbing lack of Willie Nelson, and their even more disturbing excess of ABBA, Sweden does seem like an amazing country. The countries in Europe that J and I have actual cultural ties to, Ireland and England and Germany, do not seem appealing. But something about Sweden really calls out to us. It's not the food, or the landscape. The landscape is lovely, but it isn't so different from up here in the Northwest. I think it's the cohesiveness of the culture.
At least from an outside perspective, Sweden seems like one country. There is a set of cultural norms, a government system, a language, and all of these things are related to the place in which they exist. One of the strengths of the US is the diversity. Growing up with that strength, we do take it for granted. But we also feel the lack of cohesiveness acutely. There is nothing about the States that makes it feel like a country. Not to be an armchair sociologist here, but I think that relates to the disconnect we feel between actions and ideas. We're an idealistic nation, but violent. We're religious, but not spiritual.
I don't think Sweden is a perfect country or anything. It might not even be a nice country, I don't know that much about it. The idea of Sweden, however, is compelling. The idea has always had a strong pull to me and J. I'm not sure what will become of it, if anything. But it's fun to read about and imagine.